I just saw “Iron Man 3” (not really that good of a movie). In the film, a shadowy bin Laden type terrorist has been attacking the United States for some time. Additionally, there has been a series of bombings or other explosions that have occurred across the country.
And then there’s the whole alien invasion and destruction of New York City. It is worth noting that, in this universe, New York City has been the site of widespread destruction at least twice in a five year span (the first time by the Hulk and the Abomination). Plus, a town in New Mexico was wrecked by The Destroyer. And then there is the destruction of the Helicarrier, an extremely advanced flying fortress owned by the United States military (via SHIELD). Not to mention the destruction of an underground government facility.
And there are the two boondoggle programs that result in failure - Project Pegasus and the Super Soldier program.
To begin, let’s use the Boston Bombings as a yardstick. CNBC reported that the Boston Bombings cost as much as $333 million. Now, those were amateurish bombs which resulted in three deaths and several hundred injured.
In Iron Man 3, there had been a series of bombings (or explosions), each one resulting in the death of about 6 people (an implausibly low number) with no information as to injured. Given the landmark status of Graumann’s Chinese Theatre, obviously an explosion there would have killed or maimed on the same scale as the Boston Bombing, meaning that the cost would be at least $333 million. Add this to the Tennessee event that killed six in the film. So, at least $500 million and possibly as high as $750 million once the costs of repairs to the landmark are factored in.
But that’s not the only destruction. There is the destruction of a large portion of an oil platform and ensuing environmental damage, the destruction of Air Force One (a $400m jet), as well as the repeated compromising of what appears to be a woefully insecure intelligence infrastructure. The Deepwater Horizon disaster resulted in approximately $14b in cleanup costs (as reported by the Congressional Reporting Service) as of January 2013.
Of course, this is just a summary of damage from Iron Man 3. Iron Man and Iron Man 2 saw numerous battles near the public and in public places. In the ensuing carnage and panic, obviously scores of people are killed and hundreds injured, crippled, maimed, or disfigured. Plus there’s the property damage.
To fully appreciate how much taxpayer money goes to repairing the devastation caused by superheroes, let’s instead use 9/11 as a yardstick. The New York Times pegged the price tag for 9/11 at approximately $3.3 trillion. Other estimates vary between $2 trillion and $5 trillion. $55b includes funding to treat victims and first responders who were exposed to dust and other toxic fumes; $8b for the WTC buildings alone; $6b for other property damage (office equipment, cars, etc.); $5b of damage to non-WTC buildings; $6b for damage to mass transit; $5b for injury; $1b for cleanup; and $24b for compensation for loss of human life. And that is just one event.
Look at The Avengers, which saw the wholesale devastation of entire zip codes. A giant flying alien monster crushed numerous high-occupancy buildings (and presumably killing the occupants). The Hulk smashed through several occupied office buildings (causing numerous casualties and wanton devastation of property). At least 25% of the buildings surrounding Grand Central Station saw some damage from crossfire or Chitauri flyers being crashed into them.
Additionally, there is the problem of uncontrolled fires burning down swathes of the city (no city’s infrastructure is capable of putting out dozens of fires in varying locations all at one time) and pension payouts to dead or crippled first responders. Given the scale of the Chitauri battle, $3.3 trillion is undoubtedly too low of a figure.
There are also immeasurable costs to the economy. Prior to the events of The Avengers, Harlem had already been devastated by a battle between the Hulk and the Abomination. Meaning that insurance costs to cover damages in New York City would already be sky-high, causing a drag on the economy. Additionally, the city, state, and federal governments would be paying out money to rebuild and to compensate survivors of the incident. Given the population density of Harlem, coupled with the fact that the Abomination attack happened on a pleasant night when people were out enjoying themselves, there were undoubtedly dozens of deaths caused by Hellfire missiles being rained down from above, not to mention cars being thrown.
Of course, that is just the damage from the Abomination attack. Prior to that, there had been military operations on American soil on a college. This sort of thing does not go unnoticed and would undoubtedly result in a rather expensive inquiry. Additionally, there is the cost to replace the destroyed military equipment - including a pair of highly advanced sonic cannons.
I can suspend my disbelief to cover flying armored suits and Incredible Hulks. I cannot and will not suspend my disbelief to cover a universe where trillions of dollars every year must go to rebuilding devastation wreaked by superheroes and their nemeses.
Also, Iron Man should have ended with the United States exercising eminent domain over the suit.